Sunday, August 29, 2010

Clash of the Titans

I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen the original version of this movie. So I can’t compare the two. My comments are based solely on the entertainment value of the 2010 version.

When I was a kid, I was a big fan of Greek mythology. I may have been the only one in my elementary school who read that book on mythology by Edith Hamilton (wasn’t that her name?) for fun. Now, I have to admit that my interest in the subject was fueled by the fact that one of the local TV stations was always showing those Italian sword-and-sandal epics, most of them the so-called Sons of Hercules movies, and I was a devoted viewer. (I don’t want any AIRPLANE! jokes in the comments.)

Anyway, to continue in nostalgia mode for a moment, the first piece of fiction I ever wrote was heavily influenced by those Sons of Hercules movies. I was 11 years old, and the story filled up both sides of ten sheets of notebook paper. I wrote pretty small, so it was probably somewhere around 4000 words. The hero was some Steve Reeves clone named Argustus. That’s absolutely all I remember about it, no title, plot, or anything, and the story itself is long gone. (The second story I wrote, also when I was 11, was a Western – how’s that for foreshadowing – called “Guns in the Valley”. Something about rustlers. The more things change, etc.)

Anyway, the point of this digression is to explain that I am definitely the target audience for any movie with sword fights, Greed gods, and monsters. So, yes, I enjoyed CLASH OF THE TITANS. It’s big, loud, occasionally dumb, often hammy and over-the-top (especially Ralph Fiennes as Hades, Lord of the Underworld), CGI-laden, and has too much of that quick-cut editing. But the music is stirring, the heroes are heroic, the villains are villainous, and quite a bit of the action isn’t too jumpy. I’m really not sure why “Release the Kraken!” has become such a catch-phrase for this movie. It’s actually not that dramatic a moment. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and thought it was better than all the reviews made it sound.

It also makes me want to go back and watch some of those old Italian movies again . . . but I’m not sure that’s a good idea. (Actually, I have one coming up fairly soon on my Netflix queue, THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, but that’s because it was the first film directed by Sergio Leone, and I’ve never seen it.)


mybillcrider said...

When those Sons of Hercules movies were showing on Channel 11 in Dallas, Judy and I were living in Denton, where I was in grad school. I watched those movies every week. And I saw The Colossus of Rhodes in the theater. Boy, I feel old.

Richard R. said...

I've seen the original, with stop-motion animation by Ray Harryhausen, many times. It has it's corny moments too, of course, but I'd encourage you to watch it and do a comparison.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I think "Release the Kraken" was a catchphrase because it was a carryover from the first movie when Laurence Olivier snarled it.

Took my 5 year old son to see this and I couldn't possibly have a bigger mythology fan in my life. He can't read very well yet but he is continually asking to borrow my copy of Hamilton's mythology-because of the Medusa on the spine.

Cap'n Bob said...

My older sister watched the Sons of Hercules movies faithfully. I tried, but the bad dubbing left me cold.

Anonymous said...

James, when I was a kid I enjoyed watching these types of movies when they were grouped under the umbrella title SONS OF HERCULES. Also enjoyed the Edith Hamilton book.


James Reasoner said...

I'm very glad to see I wasn't the only Sons of Hercules fan.

Cap'n, I agree, the dubbing was bad, but it didn't bother me too much. The same station that showed the Sons of Hercules movies also showed those French Lemmy Caution movies with Eddie Constantine, also badly dubbed, and I watched all of those, too, so I guess I was used to it. Channel 11 was my favorite station back then. They had the Tarzan movies, too, and the best cartoons.

Mark Terry said...

Then you really, really need to read the kids books written by Rick Riordan: Percy Jackson and the LIghtning Thief, etc. The movie of the first book is pretty good, too.